Doesn’t Everyone Use a Spreadsheet to Research a New Car Purchase?

New Car Research
How to make the right decision when you want to buy a new car.

You see, I’m researching three-row SUVs for my next car (my current Mini Cooper is 14 years-old, and ready to be retired in favor of a more family-functional car).

There is a lot of this style of car available in the marketplace, and the only way I can keep track of all the data so I can pick the exact right car is by using a spreadsheet.

Doesn’t everyone do this?

It’s not even that complicated a spreadsheet. There are 13 columns, one for each of the cars being researched (as I said, there are a lot). Then there are a dozen or so rows, where I track the models, and the trim levels that include the features that are important to me. I’m looking for Apple CarPlay, I’m interested in the cargo volumes behind each row of seats, and whether it has all the newest adaptive cruise control and safety features.

And, very important, what’s the MSRP at the minimum model/trim configuration that gets me all the features I want?

It takes a lot of work to compile all this data. Not every automaker shows everything in a really organized way. But between the automaker websites and the various auto review sites, I’ve filled in all the data.

Next step: analysis!

The way I’m tackling the analysis is with this concept: out of 13 cars, I want to know what the top third are on each of the key metrics (cargo space, MSRP, and so on). I highlight the top four cars in each category, and then I sum up the total “top fours” for each vehicle to see which cars lead the pack overall.

For the record, according to the issues that are important to me, the new Subaru Ascent comes out on top, because of its’ balance of cargo volume, amenities, and price. Indeed, if you want to talk value, it wins both on price/cubic foot and price/cup-holder! I feel like I’m writing a sequel to Moneyball here: let’s call it Moneycar!

Did I mention I’m an engineer?

So, the bottom line is this: I’m a little obsessive about making the right choice, so I fall back on my data analysis skills to help me find confidence in decision making. Seems like a very GeekDad thing to do.

But I’d love to hear from our readers: is this something you’ve done, about cars or other purchases? Tell us your stories in the comments below about going a little overboard picking out a new car, washer/dryer, house, baby name, or whatever else!

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